Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork

Graduate School of Regional Resource Management, University of Hyogo

About Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork

Oriental White Stork

The Oriental White Stork is a carnivorous bird at the apex of food chain in wetland ecosystem, feeding on a wide variety of prey living both in water and on ground including large-sized freshwater fish, snakes and grasshoppers. It is currently an endangered species with a little over 2,000 birds in the Far East.

  1. Name
    English Name Oriental White Stork
    Scientific Name Ciconia boyciana(“Ciconia” is Latin of the stork, and “boyciana” is originated from the name “R. H. Boyce” who brought a specimen of the Oriental White Stork to Robert Swinhoe who scientifically described and named it.)
  2. Classification
    Order: Ciconiiformes, Family: Ciconiidae
  3. Size
    With both wings spread, the wingspan is about 200 cm to 220 cm. When standing, it is about 100 cm to 110 cm high.
  4. Weight
    4 kg to 5 kg
  5. Sex Determination
    Hardly any difference in appearance, but the male is generally a little larger than the female.
  6. Food
    Being carnivorous, they feed on fish (loach, carp, etc.), snake, frog, grasshopper, and many other creatures.
  7. Distribution
    Breeds in the Russian Far East and northeast China and winters mainly in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and other countries. In Japan and South Korea where it used to breed, a reintroduction program of this species is being conducted.
  8. National and World Protection Ranking
    Ministry of the Environment’s Red Red List Category Critically Endangered(CR)
    (Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild)
    IUCN Red List Category Endangered(EN)
    (Although it is not as extreme as Critically Endangered, CR, there is a high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future)
    Washington Convention Category (CITES) Appendix I of CITES
    (Species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances)
  9. Worldwide Population
    Over 1,000 and below 2,500 (Estimation according to IUCN)
  10. Habitat
    They mainly live in inland wetlands, lakes, rivers, paddy fields, idle ponds and such.
  11. Breeding Ecology
    The population of the continent of Asia mostly build their nests on top of Japanese Larch, Mongolian Oak, Asian Black Birch, Japanese White Birch and other tall trees. However, they have also been known to nest on top of electric poles, steel towers and other man-made objects. The breeding population in Japan would mainly nest on the top of pine trees, and have also been found nesting on the roof tops of temples and shrines, as well as utility telegraph poles and such.
    The monogamous pair will establish a territory and then build nests, incubate eggs, brood, and raise their chicks together. In the wild, nests are built 4–17m high up in a tree, utilizing branch of 20~150cm in length. The nest itself has an approximate diameter of 1.0~2.5m and depth of 0.5–2.0m. The outside of the nest will be constructed first, and then grass and feathers will be used to make the inside. Typically, the female will lay a total of 2 to 5 eggs every other day; many birds will start incubating the clutch by the fourth egg.
    In case of captive breeding the average egg size is 72.9mm (71.2–74.8mm) long, 53.4mm (53.0–54.8mm) wide, and the average weight is 115.1g (109.6–124.1g).
    Eggs will hatch 30~34 days after the start of incubation. Chicks will stay in the nest for 53–70 days from the first hatching. Young storks will stay close to the nest for about one month after fledging and then they will gradually begin to disperse.
    Compared to storks on the Asian Continent, the breeding season is earlier in Tajima District, northern Hyogo prefecture in Japan. They begin nesting from about mid- February; start laying eggs about late March to early April, chicks will then hatch from late April to early May and the young storks will leave the nest from about late June to early July.
  12. Identification of the Oriental White Stork
    The Oriental White Stork is similar in appearance to the Red-crowned Crane and other cranes, as well as the Grey Heron and other herons. However its size and plumage, and way of flying are different.
    While herons bend their necks into an “S” shape when in flight, the Oriental White Stork flies with its neck stretch out straight.
    The Oriental White Stork is able to perch up on a tree unlike the Red-crowned crane and other cranes, which cannot so and build their nests on the ground. Also, cranes can vocalize but the Oriental White Stork is unable to make any vocal sounds or calls. Instead, the Oriental White Stork will communicate through clattering while the chicks are capable of vocalizing.
  13. Related Species
    The (European) White Stork mainly in Europe has a vermillion colored beak and is slightly smaller than the Oriental White Stork. Before they were classified in the same classification of subspecies, but are now classified as a different species. The legend of a stork bringing a baby is about the European White Stork and not about the Oriental White Stork.
  14. Legal Standpoint
    The Oriental White Stork is a “Special Natural Monument” under Cultural Properties Protection Law (Agency for Cultural Affairs) and is designated as a ”Natural Endangered Species” according to the Act For the Conversation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Ministry of Environment). It is also the prefectural bird of Hyogo Prefecture.
  15. Lifespan
    Their lifespan in the wild is still unknown, but those in captivity for breeding have lived to be more than 40 years old.